Koko is perhaps the best known gorilla in the world because of her sign language and artistic abilities, her relationships with kittens, and a considerable amount of worldwide media since she was a baby. However, Koko is not the only gorilla that has mastered sign language and art, and she has a number of equally interesting (and intelligent) friends. In this section, we introduce you to Koko and her extended family at the Gorilla Foundation.

Meet Koko

Koko was born at the San Francisco Zoo in 1971 and came to live with Dr. Penny Patterson at the Gorilla Foundation when Koko was just 1 year old. As part of what was supposed to be just a 4-year Ph.D. dissertation, Koko began to learn American Sign Language. Four decades later, Koko has become an articulate ambassador for her endangered species.  More

Meet Ndume

This Ndume was born at the Cincinnati Zoo in 1981 and came to live with Koko in 1991.  He is 10 years younger than Koko, and was selected by her via "video dating" to be her mate.  While a mating bond has not developed, they have become close friends and could provide the foundation for an adopted family of gorilla ambassadors.  More

Meet Michael

Michael was born in Cameroon, Africa in 1974, where he became a bushmeat orphan as an infant. He came to live with Koko shortly thereafter, and became an integral part of Project Koko, learning American Sign Language with Koko.  In 2000,  Michael suddenly died of cardiomyopathy.  Koko misses him to this day, and his memory lives on in all of our work.  More

Contact Us



The Gorilla Foundation / Koko.org
1733 Woodside Rd., Suite 330
Redwood City, CA, 94061
1-800-ME-GO-APE (634-6273)

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Our mission is to learn about gorillas by communicating with them, and apply our knowledge to advance great ape conservation, education, care and empathy.


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